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Benghazi 30, Susan Rice 23, United States 18, John Mccain 18, Us 17, Lindsey Graham 16, U.s. 15, Israel 14, U.n. 13, Mccain 12, Graham 12, Romney 8, Harlem 8, America 7, Syria 7, Washington 6, Fbi 6, Obama 6, David Petraeus 6, Fredricka 6,
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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business. Latest on the day's top news stories  
   with a focus on global news, trends and destinations. New.  

    November 14, 2012
    11:00 - 1:00pm PST  

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so i'm not either prejudging what he's interested in doing, nor am i suggesting i've got some specific assignment, but what i want to do is to get ideas from him and see if there is some ways we can potentially work together. >> when it comes to your relationships with congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven't done enough to reach out and build relationships. are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with congress in the second term? >> look, i think there is no doubt that i can always do better. and so i will examine ways that i can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as it is advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy. you know, i've got a lot of good
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relationships with folks both in the house and the senate. i have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. it hasn't always manifested itself in the kind of agreements i would like to see between democrats and republicans and so i think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things we can improve on. and i don't exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if i can improve our working relationship. they're probably going to still be some sharp differences. and as i said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights and i think those are fights that need to be had. but what i think the american people don't want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. and i don't have another election. and, you know, michelle and i were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible
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honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. and there are people all across this country, millions of folks, who worked so hard to help us get elected, but there are also millions of people who didn't vote for us but are counting on seriously. i take that responsibility very seriously and i hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than i was in the first. jonathan karl? >> thank you, mr. president. senator john mccain and senator lindsey graham both said today they want to have watergate style hearings on the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi and said if you nominate susan rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination as senator graham said, he simply doesn't trust ambassador rice after what she said about
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benghazi. i would like your reaction to that and would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that? >> well, first of all, i'm not going to comment at this point on various nominations i'll put forward to fill out my cabinet for the second term. those are things that are still being discussed. but let me say specifically about susan rice, she has done exemplary work. she has represented the united states and our interests in the united nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. as i said before, she made an appearance at the request of the white house in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go
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after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. and you know, we're after an election now. i think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in benghazi and i'm happy to cooperate in any ways that congress wants. we have provided every bit of information that we have. and we will continue to provide information and we have got a full blown investigation. and all that information will be disgorged to congress. and i don't think there is any debate in this country that when
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you have four americans killed, that's a problem. and we got to get to the bottom of it and there noeeds to be accountability. we got to bring those who carried it out to justice. they won't get any debate from me on that. but when they go after the u.n. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they got a problem with me. and should i choose, if i think that she would be the best person to serve america in the capacity of the state department, then i will nominate her. that's not a determination i've made yet. ed henry. >> want to take chuck's lead and ask a small follow-up, whether you feel you have a mandate, not just on taxes, but on a range of
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issues, because of your decisive victory. but wasn't to say on benghazi, based on what john asked if they want to come after me, come after me, want to ask about the families of the four americans who were killed. shawn smith family's ray, said he believes his son called 911 for help and didn't get it. i know you said you grieve for the four americans, that it is being investigated, but the families have been waiting for more than two months. so i would like to, for you to address the families if you can, on 9/11, acomma as commander i did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives? >> ed, i'll address the families not through the press, i'll address the families directly as i already have. and we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. that's what the investigation is for. but as i said, repeatedly, if people don't think that we did
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everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who i sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the united states, then you don't know how our defense department thinks or our state department thinks or our cia thinks. their number one priority is to protect american lives. that's what our job is. now -- ed, we're -- i'll put forward -- i will put forward every bit of information that we have. i can can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my national security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe. and that's the same order i would give anytime that i see americans are in danger, whether they're civilian, or military. because that's our number one priority. with respect to the issue of
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mandate, i've got one mandate. i've got a mandate to help middle class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. that's my mandate. that's what the american people said. they said, work really hard to help us. don't worry about the politics of it. don't worry about the party interests. don't worry about the special interests. just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead because we're working really hard out here and we're still struggling a lot of us. that's my mandate. i don't presume that because i won an election that everybody suddenly agrees with me on everything. i'm more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. we are very cautious about that. on the other hand, i didn't get re-elected just to bask in
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re-election. i got elected to do work on behalf of american families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession, but are hopeful about the future. and i am too. the one thing that i said during the campaign, that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric, but now that the campaign is over and i'll repeat it and hopefully you guys will believe me, when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the american people. and it just makes you want to work harder. you meet families who are -- have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college and you meet young people who are doing incredible work in
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disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the american ideal and it should be available for everybody. and, you meet farmers who are helping each other during times of drought, and you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession, even though the owner didn't have to take a salary and you -- when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they have been getting. they deserve all of us here in washington to be thinking every single day, how can i make things a little better for them. everything we do isn't going to be perfect or that there are going to be big, tough challenges we have to grapple with, but i do know the federal government can make a difference. we're seeing it right now on the jersey coast and in new york. people are still going through a really tough time.
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the response hasn't been perfect. but it's been aggressive and strong and fast and robust and a lot of people have been helped because of it. and that's a pretty good metaphor for how i want the federal government to operate generally and i'm going to do everything i can to make sure it does. >> thank you, mr. president. and congratulations, by the way. >> thanks. >> one quick follow-up -- >> chris was there when i was running for state senate. >> that's right. i was. i've never seen you lose. i wasn't looking that one time. >> there you go. >> one quick follow-up and then i want to ask you about iran. i just want to make sure i understood what you said. can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year? and on iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program
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issue and are we headed toward one on one talks? >> well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal cliff. if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and what that means for our economy, that there is too much stubbornness in congress that we can't even agree on given middle class families a tax cut, then middle class families will end up having a big tax hike. that's going to be a pretty rude shot for them and i suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring and we can go back into a recession. it would be a bad thing. it is not necessary. so i want to repeat, step number
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one that we can take in the next couple of weeks, provide certainty to middle class families, 98% of families who make less than $250,000 a year, small businesses, that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. give them that certainty, right now. we can get that done. we can then set up a structure whereby we're dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements, and i'm ready and willing to make big commitments to make sure that we're locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. i'm confident we can do it. it is -- and, look, i've been living with this for a couple of years now. i know the math pretty well. and it really is arithmetic, not
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calculus. there are tough things that have to be done, but there is a way of doing this that does not hurt middle class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn't hurt families with disabled kids. allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and education, helping young people afford going to college. as we already heard from some republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. they'll still be wealthy. and it will not impinge on business investment. so we know how to do this. this is just a matter of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say democrats and republicans, we're both going to hold hands and do what's right for the american people. and i hope that's what happens. with respect to iran, i -- i very much want to see a
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diplomatic resolution to the problem. i was very clear before the campaign. i was clear during the campaign and i'm now clear after the campaign, we're not going to let iran get a nuclear weapon. but i think there is still a window of time for us it resolve this diplomatically. we have imposed the toughest sanctions in history. it is having an impact on iran's economy. there should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. and so, yes, i will try to make a push in the coming months it see if we can open up a dialogue between iran and not just us, but the international community to see if we can get this thing resolved. i can't promise that iran will walk through the door that they need to walk through. but that would be very much the
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preferable option. >> under what circumstances would a conversation take place? >> i won't talk about the details of negotiations, but i think it is fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we're not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols if iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they'll be in a position to resolve it. >> at one point, just prior to the election, there was talk that -- talks might be imminent. >> that was not true and it's not -- it's not true as of today. okay. just going to knock through a couple of others. mark landers. where's mark? there he is. right in front of me. >> thank you, mr. president. in his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, mayor bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. tomorrow you're going up to new york city where you're going to,
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i assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of hurricane sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. what specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change and do you think the political will exists in washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on carbon? >> you know, as you know, mark, we can't attribute any particular weather event to climate change. what we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing. faster than was predicted even ten years ago. we do know that the arctic ice cap is melting, faster than was predicted even five years ago. we do know that there have been extraordinarily -- there have
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been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in north america, but also around the globe. and i am a firm believer that climate change is real. that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. and as a consequence, i think we have got an obligation to future generations to do something about it. now, in my first term we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. that will have annum pa impact. we doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. and we continued to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere. but we haven't done as much as we need to.
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so what i'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what can -- what more can we do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then, you know, working through an education process that i think is necessary, a discussion, a conversation across the country about, you know what realistically can we do long-term to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations that is going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with. i don't know what either democrats or republicans are prepared to do at this point
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because, you know this is one of those issues that is not just a partisan issue. i also think there is -- there are regional differences. there is no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices. and, you know, understandably i think the american people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know if the message is somehow we're going to ignore jobs and growth, simply to address climate change, don't think anybody is going to go for that. i won't go for that. if on the other hand we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, i think that's something the american people would support. so, you know, you can expect that you'll hear more from me in
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the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward. >> sounds like you're saying -- some kind of tax. >> that i'm pretty certain of. and, look, we're still trying to debate whether we can make sure the middle class families don't get a tax hike. let's see if we can resolve that. that should be easy. this one's hard. but it's important. because, you know, one of the things we don't always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. we just put them off as something that is unconnected to our behavior right now and i think what based on the evidence we're seeing is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if we don't do something about it.
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all right. last question. mark felsenthau. where's mark? >> thank you. mr. president, the assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. france has recognized the opposition coalition. what would it take for the united states to do the same? and is there any point at which the united states would consider arming the rebels? >> mm-hmm. you know, i was one of first leaders i think around the world to say assad had to go. in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests. obviously the situation in syria has deteriorated since then. we have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. we have committed to hundreds of millions of dollars of
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humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of syria and outside of syria. we are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they're not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the assad regime. we are in very close contact with countries like turkey and jordan that immediately border syria and have an impact and obviously israel, which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere. and that could have an impact not just within syria, but on the region as a whole. i'm encouraged to see that the syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they had in the past. we're going to be talking to
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them, my envoys will be traveling to, you know, various meetings that are going to be taking place want international community and the opposition. we consider them a legitimate representation of the aspirations of the syrian people. we're not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile, but we do think that it is a broad-based representative group. one of the questions that we're going to continue to press is making sure that opposition is committed to a democratic syria, an inclusive syria, a moderate syria. we have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. and, you know, one of the things we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we're not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do
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americans harm or do israelis harm or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security. so we're constantly probing and working on that issue, the more engaged we are, the more we'll be in a position to make sure that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long-term. thank you very much. [ inaudible ] >> -- on spending, the $1.2 trillion figure, is that something you see in the short-term or is there -- >> that was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. so thank you very much, guys.
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>> president of the united states wrapping up a nearly one hour news conference, first since march over at the east room in the white house. obviously a lot more confident, showing that he's ready for another four years in the white house. and really going after senators john mccain and lindsey graham, both of whom earlier in the day insisted they would do everything in their power to prevent susan rice, the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, from becoming the secretary of state, potentially succeeding hillary clinton. we have a clip, i want to just play this right now, here is the president of the united states directly rebutting mccain and graham. >> she made an appearance at the request of the white house, in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. if senator mccain and senator
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graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador, who had nothing to do with benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. >> that's just the beginning. we have a lot to dissect right now. joined by an excellent panel here in washington, our chief political analyst gloria borger is here. our cnn political contributor donna brazile and alex castellan castellanos, and fran townsend, a member of the cia's external advisory board. we have our business -- chief business correspondent ali velshi in new york, our senior congressional correspondent dana bash and our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin who asked president obama the second
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question of the news conference. let me start, jessica, with you. the president clearly on fire. he was angry at these two republican senators for saying what they said about susan rice. he says he hasn't made a decision on whether he will nominate her to try to succeed hillary clinton as secretary of state. but we rarely see that kind of bitter -- those kinds of bitter words publicly from the president going after two republican lawmakers. >> absolutely, wolf. that's about as emotional and angry as we see him get speaking to the press. he called it outrageous that they would go after the u.n. ambassador, saying that they should come after him if they have someone to target. it was as if he felt that they had provoked him into nominating her. that's not what he said, but he certainly nashed his teeth and revealed some ire there. the president and the white house have maintained, i should say white house aides maintained all along that the intelligence will ultimately reveal that what susan rice said on the morning
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shows will prove to be true in the end, once all is uncovered and the investigations are done. clearly he feels very defensive of her. now, and the question is, you know, will this provoke him and even strengthen his resolve if he's already leaning toward nominating her into nominating her. i should point out, though, wolf, there was some other news made in this press conference. we heard the president say clearly that he does not think on the fiscal cliff that this idea that's been floated that just instead of raising -- instead of closing deductions and not touching rates, that will not be a go for him. he's not a fan o that option. that's a specific detail. we have not heard from the president to date. we heard some detail from him on what he would like in immigration reform package, and admission of wrongdoing by those who entered illegally, but also some element of the dream act being folded in and a path to
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citizenship, and we also heard him acknowledge more about benghazi. we can talk in more detail, but i did want to point out those specifics and then, of course, on petraeus and the protocol of when he was informed. he really, really wouldn't get into detail on criticizing anyone regarding that entire process and his notification, wolf. >> yeah, he said he was withholding judgment whether the fbi and the justice department were correct in not informing him over these many months that the cia director at the time, david petraeus, was already under investigation. we'll have a lot more to dissect on that as well. i want to go to capitol hill now. dana bash is standing by. here's what john mccain said earlier in the day, because i know we're already getting reaction to the president's very angry statement going after mccain and lindsey graham on their insistence they'll do whatever they can to block susan rice from potentially becoming the next secretary of state.
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here is what mccain said earlier. >> i've said for days, weeks that -- >> you said you haven't gott gotten -- >> it is a cover-up or gross incompeten incompetence, one of the two. can't be anything else. maybe a combination of both. the president of the united states didn't even tell the truth. >> all right, strong words. are you getting reaction on the hill to what we heard from the president, dana? >> i am. i'm getting -- first of all, let me clarify, wolf that was john mccain yesterday. you're absolutely right, john mccain and lindsey graham were very forceful in insisting they do not want susan rice to be put up for secretary of state and nor do they want anybody who was involved in their words in benghazi because they simply don't trust them. but it was very clear that lindsey graham was watching the president very closely, very carefully, because as he was finishing, as the president was finishing, we got a statement from lindsey graham and i'll read it responding, mr. president, don't think for one minute i don't hold you ultimately responsible for
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benghazi. i think you failed as commander in chief before, during and after the attack. he went on to say, we owe it to the american people and the victims of this attack to have full, fair hearings and accountability be assigned where appropriate and he went on to say, given what i know now, i have no intention of promoting anyone who was up to their eyeballs at the benghazi debacle. this is something clearly written in the heat of the moment and somebody pressed send. this is a full-on fight. whether or not it is over the person or the potential nominee of susan rice or more broadly about the fact that these republicans are very angry and they are out for blood on this issue of benghazi and from their perspective, the fact that they believe the administration simply did not tell the truth on what went on there. >> let's say, dana, the president holds firm and says, you know what, susan rice deserves to be secretary of state, he puts her name up for nomination, she has to go before the senate foreign relations committee, the senate has to vote, there are now effectively 55 democrats in the senate, if
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you bring in both of the newly elected independents, 45 republicans. that's a majority if all the democrats hold firm. the republicans presumably could try to use a filibuster. here is the question. would the democrats have more than 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster? >> you know, i think it is too early to answer that question. you would assume in general the answer would be yes because generally presidents get the nominees they want. but this is clearly not your typical situation. and in fact lindsey graham, i was the person who asked both lindsey graham and john mccain the question about susan rice because it was clear they were so hot on this issue, and he made the point separately that he has supported the president's supreme court nominees when most of his party has not. but this is a situation where they are going to go to war to try to block it if, in fact, susan rice is nominated or as they said for that matter, anyone else who is currently
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serving in the administration who they think did not do their job properly when it comes to benghazi and the attack in libya. >> i want to discuss more on this with our panel in a moment. ali velshi, i want to bring you into this conversation, talk about the so-called fiscal cliff. the president was firm saying the rich people -- the people who make more than $250,000 a year presumably will have to pay some more in taxes, but i didn't hear that firm shermanesque line about rates, about tax rates or numbers for that matter. he was very, very willing to compromise if they have good ideas, bring them up, let's avoid this looming disaster. give me your analysis. >> we worked together for a long time. i like to think i'm the chief business correspondent but you and i were covering president obama's speech about the economy last friday and you identified the fact that suddenly absent from his discussion that had taken place all through the campaign was this discussion about rates. going back to the clinton era rates, going up to 39.6%.
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hadn't said that. here is what he said. he said a number of things. for the top 2%, what i'm not going to do is extend further tax cuts for folks who don't need it. this shouldn't be a surprise. raising tax on the rich, more people agree with me than voted for me. he said it will not hurt the rich to tax them more. they will still be rich. but you're absolutely right. he didn't put any numbers to it. he's put a proposal forward that says he needs over 10 years to raise $1.6 trillion in revenue. fact is, you can't do that without raising the taxes on the rich. that will bring in about 1.2, 1.3 trillion of the 1.6 he needs. so he has -- i think when they asked him, is there a red line for you, he didn't want to say that. i think he wants to see an increase on the taxes for the rich, but he's leaving the door open to what that increase would look like and, you're right, he said i am open to ideas. if there are better ideas, i'm open to hearing them, but the rich will carry a bigger burden than they're carrying now. he's absolutely leaving the door
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open for increasing rates, a little bit. or half as much as he wants or two-thirds as much as he wants. he has not uttered a number since he's been elected. >> yeah. i notice that there is room for negotiation. ali, stand by. i want to bring in our panel, gloria, first of all, on the fiscal cliff and the taxes, the tax rates, you didn't hear a sherman-esque statement from the president saying under no circumstances will he let a deal go through unless the top 2%, their tax rates go from 35%, currently the bush tax rate to 39.6%, which was the clinton tax rate. >> right. what i was hearing was a president re-elected who believes he's got leverage, wolf. and he's going to use his leverage. and he clearly believes in a two-step process. first of all, he said, just get it over with, extend the tax cuts for the middle class. that's a gimme, do it. the senate did it, the house republicans. >> they say they have no leverage themselves if they
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agree to that. >> but he's the man that just got re-elected, number one. he's saying this is what the country wanted, just go do it. okay. then we'll talk about the second part of the process. it is very clear to me that the president would prefer the tax rates to go up to 39.6. but he's also in the middle or starting negotiations. maybe redefine what the wealthy is, maybe it is not people earning over $250,000, maybe it is people earning over a million. maybe there is some different kind of combination here. he clearly doesn't want to end the negotiations before they start. would he prefer to end up with both capping deductions and higher rates for the wealthy, absolutely, because he wants to gain as much as he can. is he going to say that on day one? no. he was very -- he was very smart not to -- >> that's significant. there should be some reforms in the entitlement spending, like medicare, for example, he was leaving that open and that irritates a lot of the democrats
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as you well know. >> there was almost no mention of that at all, wolf. if you're going to negotiate with republicans, this is a country of $16 trillion in debt on its way to $20 trillion, the president never really mentioned any of that today. it seemed to me, i think republicans will look at this as more of a status quo message from the president. not somebody who is really ready to tackle deficit reduction. >> doesn't very leverage? who has leverage here? >> i didn't hear any of that olive branch to republicans, nothing. this was all let's raise taxes and pay for -- >> he kept saying, you know, i'm willing to compromise. if you got good ideas, let's talk. >> no, he didn't. he said he was willing to compromise on taxes and on revenue, but nothing on compromising on spending. he didn't put anything on the table. >> that's because, alex, i think republicans, the romnesia stuff needs to end because back in the day, the president signed the budget control act which capped spending, discretionary
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spending. so we already have seen over a trillion dollars, $1.7 trillion in spending cut that was put on the table for fiscal year 2013 to 2022. what the president has been campaigning on is a balanced approach so we have an adequate number of revenue increases and spending cuts that has already been -- he signed it into law, alex. he already put his name on the -- >> i'm glad you said that. he signed it into law. he's already counting spending cuts we have already got. that's one of the problems republicans have with this. stuff he signed into law, he's counting his future spending cuts. that's not going to get it. there are no new spending cuts. >> he did say -- alex, he did say we have to take a serious look at how to reform entitlements. what does that mean to you? >> it doesn't mean much because he didn't put anything concrete on the table. >> we know what we're talking about here. we know about raising the age of social security. >> let's hold off on this for a moment. i want to come back to this. i want to bring fran into this
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conversation. he was very generation to the fbi and the department of justice. i sense internally he was irritated that nobody bothered to tell the commander in chief, the president of the united states that the cia director was under investigation all these months. but he did say there is fbi protocols and they got to be careful and all of this kind of stu stuff. >> a couple of interesting points, wolf. the president says he's not aware of any evidence that any league of classified information breached national security. he's not saying there wasn't a leak of classified information. just that he's not aware of it. >> he says i have no evidence the classified documents, blah, blah, blah. >> which would have impacted national security. the reason he hedged those words, wolf, he is aware there is an ongoing leak investigation, which is why fbi agents were searching paula broadwell's home. so he's left himself some room there. he mentioned the protocols and
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withholding judgment. what he's referencing is a 2007 attorney general memo that talks about communications between the white house and the justice department on criminal investigations. that they're supposed to be between the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, with the white house counsel, and the deputy white house counsel. we don't know those communications take place and, by the way, this memo, says the most important thing is that there should be no inhibition to those communications when it affects national security or espionage. which means if somebody was hiding behind this memo to not tell the white house, they probably were wrong. and i think the president is waiting -- withholding judgment, but likely they should have told him. >> all right, everybody stand by. because there is a lot more to do, to discuss including the president, what i thought the president's very generous comments to mitt romney, his former republican presidential challenger saying he would like to sit down and talk to mitt romney before the end of this year. he says mitt romney has very good ideas he raised during the
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campaign. he also believes mitt romney did a great job during the winter olympic games. a lot to continue our conversation. much more to assess. our special coverage, here in the "cnn newsroom" continues right after this. ♪ [ male announcer ] a european-inspired suspension, but not from germany. ♪ a powerful, fuel-efficient engine, but it's not from japan. ♪ it's a car like no other... inspired by a place like no other.
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president of the united states wrapping up just moments ago his first news conference since his re-election, his first news conference at the white house in the east room since march to be precise. he answered questions for about an hour, a wide range of questions, but he was clearly, clearly deeply upset, very angry, at republican senators john mccain and lindsey graham for in his words besmirching the reputation of the united states ambassador to the united nations, susan rice. they both vowed they would do whatever they can to prevent her from becoming secretary of state, potentially succeeding hillary clinton. lindsey graham responding saying this.
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>> this is about the role she played around four dead americans when it seems to be that the story coming out of the administration and she's the point person is so disconnected to reality, i don't trust her. and the reason i don't trust her is because i think she knew better and if she didn't know better, she shouldn't be the voice of america. somebody has got to start paying a price around this place. i don't think she deserves to be promoted. there are a lot of qualified people in this country the president could pick. but i am dead set on making sure we don't promote anybody that was an essential player in the benghazi debacle. >> that's what lindsey graham said before the news conference. the president said if you got a problem with what susan rice said on those five sunday talk shows, don't go after her, go after me. and in response to that, lindsey graham just issued this statement, mr. president, don't think for one minute i don't hold you ultimately responsible for benghazi. i think you failed as commander
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in chief before, during and after the attack. donna brazile, you got a war going on here right now between the president of the united states and the two very influential members of the senate armed services committee. >> it is, wolf. but there is an investigation still under way, an investigation both in the congress and internal investigation in the administration. and i don't understand why senator mccain and senator graham would -- they issued a gratuitous attack on susan rice. susan was briefed by intelligence officials. she didn't just go out there and make it up. she didn't go out there and cover up anything. and yet somehow or another they believe that she must be the person they had to attack, attack, attack. i think it is unprofessional. it is small minded. and, yes, the president, he took responsibility in that debate with mitt romney. he took responsibility for benghazi. why don't they wait for the investigation to make the
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conclusions known before they start attacking certain individuals. >> i think suif the president ss that she's just sharing the information the intelligence community gave, i take him at his word on that and he was -- this was personal to him. obviously this is a long relationship. we saw president today who may or may not have a mandate, but he certainly understands he has a tremendous amount of political power against a fragmented republican opposition and he's using it right there to defend his administration. but i did hear something that i hadn't quite heard that way before today and that was the president said that when he found out that american lives were in danger in benghazi, he, quote, i gave orders to do everything we can to protect them. when did he give them? to whom? were they followed? why was no one really protected? i think that's something that we're going to hear a lot more of in the next few days. >> and a lot of questions to be answered and thomas pickering
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has been invited to do this full scale state department review, this investigation that is going on with other military and diplomatic personnel. fran, i know you want to weigh in on this. you were in libya just before that attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, four americans including chris steechb stevens, the u.s. ambassador was killed. >> i met with chris stevens while i was there, an extraordinary diplomat. what this distracts from, this whole debate between the president on the hill is there really legitimate substantive questions about the number of threats in benghazi, leading up to this attack, why wasn't more done, and, frankly, when you get to susan rice, who i too worked with during the clinton administration, she wasn't responsible for the protection of the ambassador. it is not clear to me why in the world you put her out on a sunday show to speak to this. she wouldn't have been the person who had firsthand knowledge. she would have had to have relied on information provided by others and even then she
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wasn't the right person to put out. so this was sort of a perfect storm. it is like a child's game of telephone, by the time it gets to her -- >> hold on. i want to bring dana back on the hill. dana, very strong words by these republican lawmakers against susan rice, potentially becoming the secretary of state. but a very different tune, correct me if i'm wrong, coming from them about the possibility that senator john kerry could be nominated to replace, to succeed leon panetta as secretary of defense. >> i think that's true. they certainly weren't falling over themselves saying we would vote to approve john kerry if nominated, but they didn't have any kind of aversion to him either. he's one of the club here in terms of the senate club. but back to this whole question of susan rice, i think as i mentioned before, i was the one who provoked senator graham and senator mccain into talking about susan rice because the question that i asked was something i've been hearing from democrats, which is this, why are you so opposed to susan rice
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after she made some potentially incorrect or what now seemed to be incorrect statements publicly when they supported condoleezza rice back in the bush years for secretary of state after she clearly made incorrect public statements about weapons of mass destruction in iraq. and that's what provide voloked whole discussion. it comes to a question, it seems to me, certainly they're angry and these republican senators are calling for a select committee, a watergate style committee to look into all of the issues relating to libya. but the way that this back and forth is going so angry, so raw, it kind of is like, you know, makes you think did barack obama just finish his campaign against john mccain or was it mitt romney? there is so much kind of latent hostility between these two camps that simply has not gone away since -- in four years. there are big issues at stake no question about that, but there is a lot under the surface here between these two. >> hard to believe it only has been a week since the election. the president of the united
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lots of tough stuff from the president of the united states on the so-called fiscal cliff on what's going on in the post general petraeus era over at the cia. was the fbi correct in not informing him. he did on a very different note make some very generous comments to mitt romney, his former presidential rival. listen to this. >> i think everybody needs to catch their breath. i'm sure governor romney is spending some time with his family. and my hope is before the end of the year, though, we have a chance to sit down and talk. there are certain aspects of governor romney's record and his ideas that i think could be very helpful. and, well, to give you one
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example, i do think he did a terrific job running the olympics. >> then he went on to say there were several other excellent ideas that mitt romney raised during the campaign, worthy of explor exploring, wants to sit down and talk to him. gloria, i thought that was nice of the president to make those comments. don't know how mitt romney will respond, but i assume he's the president of the united states, he was re-elected, romney being a great american as he is will say, i would be happy to do whatever you would like me to do. >> i think if the president reaches out to him to have a discussion it clear mitt romney would have it. i don't think he's got a job in mind for mitt romney, but one of the things the president may have been talking about that romney suggested during kamt pain the campaign is the question of capping deductions, which has become part of -- >> capping deductions for rich people. >> for wealthy people. and that was mitt romney's way of saying i'm for the middle class. >> the president believes in his words that's progressive. that's a progressive idea. >> he's happy to adopt it. he's not ready to get rid of
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raising rates either at this point, but he's happy to adopt it. >> he said he would like to talk to mitt romney about jobs and growth, economic growth, anything that could help the middle class. president said middle class, 12, 15 times and he said has a mandate to help the middle class. that's president obama, he's absolutely right. that's his mandate. that's the mandate that voters gave him last week. >> we can agree to disagree on that. but i think romney campaign is now working on pulling a great tv commercial out of that run and swing state, a little late, but -- >> on the olympics. >> it was generous of the president and politically smart to reach across the aisle to his opponents. i think what republicans on the hill will hear from today, a country with a deficit saw a president today that put nothing new on the table about how to reduce that deficit and that's going to have an impact as the negotiations -- >> he did. he said here are the tax cuts. $849 billion, bush tax cuts. >> that's raising taxes.
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>> revenue is part of the bargain on how we get our fiscal health going. >> the president spent a ton of the press conference talking about revenue. >> we got a statement from senator john mccain, reacting to the president's news conference. i'll read it to you and to our viewers. it is very specific. i have always said that the buck stops with the president of the united states, particularly for his contradictory statements in the rose garden, on 60 minutes and later venues alleging the obvious terrorist attack in benghazi was strig triggered by a hateful video or we didn't know the cause. those statements clearly did not comport with the facts on the ground. we owe the american people and the families of the murdered americans a full and complete explanation which for two months the president has failed to deliver. given all the facts, a select committee must be appointed in order to obtain a full and complete accounting which would be credible with the american people. so very carefully drafted statement from john mccain. >> look, wolf, i think it is --
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we have four dead americans and including a u.s. ambassador. this is -- that is a level of an attack that really is, i won't say without precedent, but it has been many years, decades since we have seen something like that. so it does warrant a full and transparent airing with the american people. i think that would be far more productive than the personal attack on susan rice, frankly. i do think the administration is vulnerable as i said, but i think more than anything the families ofs they dead americans deserve straight answers and deserve the transparency that clearly the american people want. i think that shouldn't be partisan. i think with the select committee of -- a bipartisan select committee -- >> what is wrong with the house and senate intelligence committees doing their full scale investigation? >> that's right. i'm not -- i'm less sort of focused on -- >> there is a republican chairman in the house, a democratic senator chairman in the senate, let them get together, do a house/senate committee investigation. >> you'll pardon mine and
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probably many of our viewers skepticism on their ability to work on anything important. >> the president knows he gave around order to protect people but doesn't know anything else. >> we have to leave it there. but we have more to digest. i'll be back in one hour for "the situation room." thanks very much. hello, everyone. top of the hour, i'm fredricka whitfield in for brooke baldwin. president barack obama holding his first news conference since winning re-election. his first big formal face-off with reporters in more than eight months. kept coming back to hiking taxes on the rich, helping the middle class, and keeping the country from going over the fiscal cliff. but the president was asked about immigration reform, the sex scandal that forced out cia director david petraeus and is holding up the -- and how that is holding up the nomination of general john allen to head the nato forces. and the september 11th terror
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attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya, which killed the u.s. ambassador and three other americans. but the most heated perhaps moment came when the president was asked about senators who say they will block any nomination of u.n. ambassador susan rice for secretary of state following her testimony on the benghazi attack. >> if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. >> the president faces some big head winds going into his second term. his approval rating is stuck in
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the 50% range and republicans still control the house of representatives. we'll sort through all of this with chief white house correspondent jessica yellin, pentagon correspondent barbara starr and senior congressional correspondent dana bash on capitol hill in a moment. first, an israeli strike on gaza today kills the military chief of hamas and threatens to usher in a wider confrontation. at this hour, hamas is vowing to strike back and israelis say israeli ground troops are poised to enter gaza if ordered. the israeli strike killed ahmad al jabbary and his driver and in addition to his role as military chief, al jabbary was one of hamas' founders. the strike followed a surge of rocket attacks from hamas controlled gaza into southern israel. those attacks have wounded about a dozen israeli civilians since saturday. cnn's sara sidner is joining us now from jerusalem. sa sara, this appears to be on the brink of a crisis.
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is it? >> reporter: yeah. i mean i think we are on the brink of what could be a full scale operation by israel and reaction from hamas and the other militant groups inside of gaza. this all started back on thursday with the death of a 13-year-old palestinian boy, which was blamed on israel, though israel so far has denied being responsible for that boy's shooting. then after that, there were rockets sent from militants inside gaza into an israeli jeep injuring four israeli soldiers. and then israel responded and back and forth now we are seeing the response of -- we are seeing more than 126 rockets that have now come into israel from gaza, those -- some of those have landed, other have been shot out of the sky by the iron dome. but what we are seeing is an escalation between these two places, israel and gaza, this whole thing is beginning to escalate and it all is sort of
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coming to a head right now. we did see there is a major emotional reaction to the death of ahmad al jabbary who is not only the head of the military of hamas, but also the real symbolic leader, one of the founders of hamas. and so we expect to see a real reaction from hamas. they have already said that israel has now opened the gates of hell on itself after this targeted attack. now, israel responded, we just spoke with the military spokesperson from israel, who said, look, we are readying ourselves. we have not determined whether or not we are going to start a ground war as well. we do know, though, that there have been targeted air strikes, more than 30 of them, throughout this evening, and we also are hearing that there is fire coming from israeli ships that are in the mediterranean off of gaza. >> and, sara, not to minimize the rocket attacks into israel, but why have the israelis reacted to strongly to this
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particular series of strikes? >> reporter: well, it is in their estimation that they haven't been acting strongly. it is their estimation that after getting 100 plus rockets coming into southern israel and targeting specifically civilians, they're saying, look, we're returning fire but doing it in a very targeted, specific way, looking for specific targets and, by the way, al jabbary was specifically targeted. we just got that information from the military spokesperson. he was specifically targeted because israel believes he is a terrorist responsible for the kidnapping and particular of gilad shalit, also the chief negotiator in that case, getting a thousand or plus palestinian prisoners being brought back into gaza as a -- so he could release gilad shalit, the israeli soldier. but obviously the civilians on both sides very concerned for their lives. there is a lot of concern here and a lot of people wondering how big this is going to get in the coming hours. >> sara sidner, thanks so much,
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from jerusalem. joining us from washington, aaron david miller, vice president of the woodrow wilson international center for scholars. good to see you. he's served as an adviser to six secretaries of state on the arab israeli peace process. so let's listen right now to israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu speaking a short time ago on the attack that killed hamas military leader al jabbary. >> translator: today we send a clear message to hamas and the other terror organizations, and if needed, the idf is ready to enhance the operation. we will do everything to protect our citizens. >> so do everything to protect the citizens. where do we believe this is going? >> look, it is an old movie sarksd sadly, tragically. operation cast led resulted in 1100 palestinians killed. undermining of israel's
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credibility at least abroad. so they resorted to a tactic they used before, which is targeting specific leaders. they tried to kill jabbary twice before. maybe three times before. they finally got him. and it is an effort, i think, against the backdrop of all of this uncertainty. artillery shells in the golan heights, the iranian issue, relations with egyptians and the jordanians, the arab spring -- arab winter, essentially to act, and to act in defense of what the israelis believe is high trajectory weapons fire with rockets that are more lethal and more expansive in range. i think they want to avoid a massive ground incursion. i suspect they're prepared to go in, but unlike operation cast led, which dragged on for two weeks plus, i don't think that's the objective here. >> so you mentioned the egypt n egyptians in the past, given the instability right now in egypt, is the new egyptian government
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poised at all to play a role here? >> i mean in the old days under mubarak you have the intelligence chief who passed from the scene try to broker something between israelis and hamas. he had good contacts with the palestinians and the israelis. you got a different situation here. i mean, hamas is -- as you know, an outgrowth of the muslim brotherhood. i think morrissy will try to walk a fine line, particularly if they're increasing civilian casualties in gaza between blasting, but preserving his relationship and the economic support in the assistance he needs from the international community. he did noes the no wan -- >> aaron david miller, thank you so much with the woodrow wilson international center. good to see you. >> a pleasure. as we reported, president barack obama just lashed out at two republican senators.
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john mccain and lindsey graham, at his news conference in washington. senators graham and mccain said today that they would block the president's u.n. ambassador susan rice from being confirmed as u.s. secretary of state if she were to be nominated. to that position, so let's listen in. >> if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. >> jessica yellin, chief white house correspondent, was there, and, jessica, was its wiit was placid news conference.
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however, this particular question really seemed to hit a nerve with the president. >> reporter: yes. he got very emotional on this answer. look, the white house feels that in general the attacks on ambassador rice are unfair, even dishonest in a sense because it has been their point all along that she was reading off of -- talking points developed by the intelligence community that were provided broadly also to congress. and that when the investigation is done, it will show that the intelligence at the time was consistent with what she was saying and that the people who are making these accusations against her know it and it is unfair of them to make these attacks. that is their point of view and you saw that reflected in the president's frustration and i think that his anger might stem from the, you know, the sense that he -- maybe they believe this would go away after the
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election. i'm not sure. but the bottom line on your larger point, fredricka, i think if you felt this was a placid news conference, it was probably because we haven't heard the president answer questions really since march and the general interest was basically getting information, broadly speaking, on what he will do in a second term, where he stands on many issues rather than being combative on specific points. >> and what kind of information did we glean as it pertains to the fis wecal cliff because tha was a topic that seems to dominate this press conference. >> reporter: i anded about th a this and and i asked why republicans could take a different posture this time than two years ago when ultimately he gave into their demands on the bush tax cuts. he said that essentially he has leverage this time, because the american people backed his position in the election. listen to this. >> if there is one thing that
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everybody understoods with a big difference between myself and mr. romney it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced responsible approach and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate. and the majority of voters agreed with me. >> reporter: now, he did say that he is leaving room for negotiating the details and one area we heard was that when we pressed him on how he would like to raise taxes on the wealthy, he wouldn't be specific. he did say raising rates seems to be the way to get there. closing loopholes should be part of it. but he won't put a number on how high those rates should go. and he also said he's open to tweaking entitlements, spending cuts, but won't get into the specifics. he's learned from past negotiations that he has to hold his cards close and only
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negotiate in private, not in public. he's been burned by that before. >> yeah, he still underscored that compromise is going to be key on that issue. thanks so much, jessica yellin, at the white house. all right, up next, how president obama responded to questions over whether the scandal involving david petraeus may have impacted national security. plus, we're now hearing that petraeus will testify about the attack in benghazi after all. ah. fire bad! just have to fire roast these tomatoes. do you churn your own butter too? what? this is going to give you a head start on your dinner. that seems easier sure does who are you? [ female announcer ] new progresso recipe starters. five delicious cooking sauces you combine with fresh ingredients to make amazing home-cooked meals. ♪ ambiance [ female announcer ] new progresso recipe starters. your head-start to home cooked.
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that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career. >> let's bring in pentagon correspondent barbara star. barbara, we learned today that former cia director petraeus has agreed to testify before the senate intelligence committee about the attack on the consulate in benghazi. when might that be and what do we expect he would be saying? >> reporter: well, fredricka, it looks like it really could come as soon as friday. the senate intelligence committee chairwoman, the senator from california, dianne feinstein, saying that petraeus has agreed to testify. the committee wanted to get him up there. it will be limited to benghazi testimony. i think it will be behind closed doors. and don't expect to see any indication of petraeus talking about his personal life. what is he going to say about
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benghazi? well, all i can tell you is i spoke to a long-standing professional colleague of david petraeus' and petraeus is going to say we are told, you know, be very straightforward, that he believed right from the beginning this involved insurgent/terrorist type activity, but that they had some indications that possibly it could have been tied also to those ongoing riots back in cairo, egypt, over a film. he's going to talk about all of it. what they knew, when they knew it. the key question that senators believe they want to get to is did petraeus have an indication off the bat it was a straight up terrorist attack and either not tell the white house or not tell them on capitol hill. >> and, barbara, we also heard the president in his press conference say that he has no evidence from what he's been able to see that classified information was disclosed. however during that question and
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answer period, that may happen, now on friday, is there concern from the pentagon there might be some potential security breaches that would be revealed? >> reporter: well, you mean from his affair with paula broadwell? >> correct. >> reporter: well, look, david petraeus has told a number of his personal friends who have been authorized to speak to reporters including myself that he never disclosed classified information to paula broadwell. but we saw that video a couple of nights ago of fbi agents carting away boxes of material and computers from her home. all indications being that they were looking at her computer, looking in her house, for potential classified material. if they found it, paula broadwell will have to demonstrate to the fbi and the military unequivocally she had the clearances for that material, and that she had reason for any recent of hadder work with the military or with
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the intelligence community to have that material and that she was following the rules to protect classified information. the bottom line, fredricka, even if you have a security clearance, you can't just take classified information home. you have to guard it. you have to protect it and most importantly you have to have an actual reason to have it in your possession. >> all right. and barbara, of course, during the press conference you heard the very emotional response the president had about u.n. ambassador susan rice, moments ago on the senate floor we understand representative -- republican senator john mccain had this to say about that. >> going on eight weeks of contradictory reports, conflict kri stateme ry statements beginning with the president of the united states. the president of the united states on the day of the -- on september 12th, went to the rose garden and stated that he opposed terrorist attacks.
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and then that evening as we found out after the election, with an interview with the -- with 60 minutes, the president stated and i will provide the quotes for the record, the quote we don't know who was responsible for these attacks. so he went from condemning, quote, terrorist attacks to saying to mr. croft of "60 minutes" that he didn't know who was responsible and then in the days following, at various venues, whether they be late night talk shows or the united nations, the president went on to allege that this was a hideous video that triggered a spontaneous demonstration. not true. not true. the president of the united states did not tell the american people the truth about the attacks that took four brave americans' lives, that went on for eight -- seven hours, for
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which we were totally unprepared. mr. president, four brave americans died. it has now been eight weeks. the american people have received nothing but contradictory statements from all levels of our government. one of the more salient events was five days after, when clearly it had been identified as an al qaeda affiliated terrorist attack. the united nations ambassador at the direction of the white house went on all sunday talk shows to allege that this was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video. as did our secretary of state, as did most regrettably the president of the united states. the american people deserve the facts. the american people need to know why was the security at the
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consulate so inadequate despite two previous -- >> republican senator john mccain there talking about susan rice, u.n. ambassador, and how she is not deserving of being nominated as the u.s. secretary of state. and also setting the tone for the upcoming benghazi hearings there. let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent dana bash. you spoke with senator mccain earlier and now this after taking to the floor, following the president's remarks at the white house. clearly this -- the tone is being set, it is very tenuous. >> reporter: it is very, very tense. no question about it. i will tell you that right after senator mccain finished saying what we played, he went on to make a very direct allusion to watergate. he said, what did the president know and when did he know it? he used the term cover-up to me and other reporters time and time again. this is very, very intense between senator mccain and his republican colleague senator graham and the president of the united states. and if you saw the back and
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forth on our air going on publicly, between the two, you would think it was 2008, not 2012 when john mccain was running against him. but they are determined. senators mccain and graham, not to let this go. whether it means if president obama puts up susan rice who is currently the u.n. ambassador for secretary of state, whether it is using that as an example to try to fight that nomination, and block it, or whether it is to continue their push, which they formally announced today, which is the initial reason john mccain went to the senate floor right now, to push for a new select committee to bring all of these questions together, because they say there are so many questions, so many different committees that have jurisdiction that are looking into it and so many things that they say are unanswered. but the fact he specifically said it is the president is very interesting. they're making it personal. >> we're talking about lindsey graham and john mccain. do they represent a chorus of that very sentiment on capitol hill? >> reporter: that's a really
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good question. i will tell you, one of the subplots going on here, it goes back several months to the presidential campaign, actually, not even several months, last month, there was a drumbeat among many conservatives led by john mccain and lindsey graham and others for mitt romney, then the republican presidential candidate, to be much more aggressive against the president when it comes to this issue, to ask him questions, to really hit him on what happened, but also as a question of leadership and there is -- there are hard feelings towards mitt romney and his campaign among republicans. i've talked to a senior republican about this just today, that they didn't do a good enough job in making this an issue because they feel it is a legitimate issue. i think there is residual campaign fever going on with this. but in all fairness, they feel that they have an oversight responsibility to make sure the american people get questions -- answers to questions about four americans that were killed, that if you look at the facts clearly
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maybe didn't have to if they had the proper security. >> dana bash, thanks so much, on capitol hill. coming up next, a cnn exclusive, investing giant warren buffett speaks with poppy harlow first interview since the presidential election. what he says about president obama's second term and the mistakes the president can't afford to repeat. buffett's candid interview next. . i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise. volt received the j.d. power and associates appeal award two years in a row. ♪ humans -- sometimes life trips us up.
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cnn's poppy par low just conducted an exclusive interview with warren buffett, ceo of berkshire hath awawayhathaway. poppy harlow joining us now from omaha, nebraska. poppy, first off, what did buffett tell you about the fiscal cliff or at least his interpretation of it? >> reporter: i think this is very important, fredricka, his answer really surprised me. so many have been very, very alarmist about what it will mean for the u.s. economy if we do go over that fiscal cliff and see the massive spending cuts and massive tax hikes. he's worried about it.
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don't get me wrong. he's not as alarmist as many. take a listen. what is the likelihood of the united states falling into a recession if we go over the cliff? >> i don't think that's going to happen. i think that if we go past january 1st i don't know whether it will be january 10th or february 1st, but we are not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along. >> even if we go over for two months, does that dip this economy back into recession? >> i don't think so. >> you don't think so. that's interesting because the cbo believes that that -- >> yeah, well, we had hurricane sandy, which disrupted the economy for a period . we had katrina. we'll have things that will disrupt the economy. 9/11 was an extraordinary case. we have a i havery resilient economy. the fact that they can't get along for the month of january is not going to torpedo the
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economy. >> reporter: and, fredricka, i also talked to him about that meeting that the president had today with ceos from american businesses and, look, he told me, i think the president needs to take a very hard line in this second term when domes to these negotiations over the fiscal cliff and over taxes. >> and, in fact, as we talk about taxes, you know, buffett is known for supporting higher taxes for wealthy people, just like himself. you asked him some very tough specific questions about what he thinks wealthy people should pay. what did he say? >> reporter: you know, i'm having a hard time hearing you -- you know, i asked him point blank for some specifics on especially capital gains taxes when it comes to investments and the -- on the profit from investments. we wanted specifics from him and here's what he said. are you saying there is no taxation level that is too high? whether it is capital gains or investment or income?
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>> we certainly prospered with capital gains rates more than double what they are currently. >> we would be fine with 30% capital gains? >> sure. >> what about income tax? >> income taxes, you know, they were revised 90% during my lifetime. very few people got up there. i saw lots of people paying federal tax rates of 50% and they went to work every day. >> so at this point, there is no level you're calling -- >> i think they can be significantly higher than they are. >> that really, fredricka, put s warren buffett at odds with i would say most ceos in this country, especially big american businesses who are arguing for -- across the board. you know -- >> all right, folks at home, it is not your television set. we're having a problem there with our audio with poppy. gladly you're able to hear interview there with warren buffett. up next, economists and author ben stein joining me live on
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what he thinks about some lawmakers hoping we go over the fiscal cliff. plus, hear what ben stein is calling the former cia chief a, quote, disgrace. ♪ [ gordon ] for some this line is a convenience. how you doing today? i'm good thanks. how are you? i'm good. [ gordon ] but for others, it's all they can afford. every day nearly nine million older americans don't have enough to eat. anything else? no, not today. join me, aarp, and aarp foundation
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[ duck yelling ] [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac! [ male announcer ] ...forbusiness.com. ♪ ha ha! january 1st, the beginning of a new year and for the u.s., a day that could seen painful tax increases and drastic spending cuts. talking about this looming fiscal cliff. and unless congress and the white house can reach a deal on cutting the deficit, we're heading over it. we just heard from the president who says solving the fiscal cliff is simple math. >> i know the math pretty well. and it really is arithmetic, not calculus. >> let's bring in the author of the book "how to really ruin your financial life and portfolio," ben stein. ben, good to see you. >> nice to see you. >> a high stakes meeting slated for this friday.
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what can the president afford to give up in these negotiations and how about congressional republicans? what can they give up? >> i think the ideal solution would be to keep the tax increases, to keep the tax increases in place. mr. buffett is completely correct. we need higher taxes. we need higher taxes than the one contemplated in the fiscal cliff. i would be extremely worried about the cuts in defense. we live in an extremely challenging world. i hate to see the u.s. cut one dollar out of defense when as long as we have enemies like iran and north korea and a rising challenger in china. >> so we're talking about compromise because you mense emd two things that the opposite sides don't really want. >> i know. >> solvable, quote, i'm confident it can be done, i recognize we will have to compromise, period. the operative word, compromise. are we going to see that this go-round? >> i'm not sure we'll see it this go-round. we might have to go over the fiscal cliff for a while. even with the fiscal cliff,
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we're still going to have a budget deficit next year of -- on the order, very rough order of $500 billion, one of the five largest budget deficits of all time. so we obviously got to go even farther than the fiscal cliff in terms of raising taxes. i hate it. i hate paying taxes. i'm like any other citizen, i don't like paying taxes but we have got to do it. and mr. obama is completely right. i'm not a fan of mr. obama. i didn't vote for him, but he's completely right. it is arithmetic, not complex arithmetic, we have to get more money into the system. >> there were people that agreed with that approach, even though they didn't vote for him. maybe he was talking about you. patty murray had this to say about the looming fiscal cliff. let's listen in. >> i think the republicans have a decision today. they need to decide whether they're going to stay and protect the wealthiest americans from participating in this challenge that we have, and if they do that, then we have no other choice but to go into next year when all the bush tax cuts expire and start over.
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i don't want to do that. i don't think we should do that. but that's what they could force us to do. >> your response to that? >> i think we may very well have to do that and i don't understand for the life of me why the republican party, to which i have belonged for a lot longer than most of the people in congress, is so adamant about protecting the wealthiest people in the country. most of those people are democrats anyway. what do we care about protecting them? we have got to get more tax revenue. look, in my neighborhood, many of the people have two or three or four bentleys. do you think it is going to hurt them a lot to have one fewer bentley? how many meals can a person eat each day? we can tax the rich more. it is not going to hurt them, not going to hurt the economy. >> what do you say about the sentiment that some say, you know what, so we go off the fiscal cliff, it won't be that bad. >> i think it will be very bad for defense. that's what i'm worried about. my main interest is in defending the united states of america. and i'm worried that if we go off the fiscal cliff, we have to drastically cut procurement or the number of people in the armed services, we'll be in
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terrible trouble if they're needed. >> and quickly before i let you go, you know, you served in several administrations, and you have some pretty strong opinions about what is taking place with the fall of cia director petraeus. >> well, i admire him. he's a hero in many, many ways, but for him to have set up an insecure e-mail account and dropping off messages in the draft message box for his girlfriend for her to pick up, that's a disgrace. that is really, really extremely unfortunate. my heart breaks for him and for his lovely wife. but this behavior is just inexcusable. >> ben stein, thanks so much. good to see you. >> thank you. >> the deadly attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi has dogged the obama administration. hear what president obama says about the controversy and why he's saying go after me,
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quote/unquote, when asked about u.n. ambassador susan rice. the only time i've ever had a break is when i was on maternity leave. i have retired from doing this one thing that i loved. now, i'm going to be able to have the time to explore something different. it's like another chapter. bp has paid overthe people of bp twenty-threeitment to the gulf. billion dollars to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
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president barack obama comes to the defense of the united nations ambassador susan rice. and her statements about the
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september 11th terror attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya. it was the most heated moment from the president's press conference this afternoon. it came in response to a question about two republican senators, john mccain and lindsey graham, who say they'll fight hard if president obama nominates rice to become his next secretary of state. >> if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador, who had nothing to do with benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. >> cnn foreign affairs report allyse labott is at the state department. do folks at the state department
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feel like they're being, you know, hung out to dry here or do they feel like, you know, the president is doing the best he can to defend them and their intentions and the ongoing investigation? >> well, in some i was yways yen some ways no. they feel like they're being thrown under the bus because the state department officials told me in the days after 9/11 and officials have given briefings on this subsequently that they never said it was a terrorist -- they never said it was a so-called mob as was initially said by the administration in the days after. state department always thought there was some element of a military style attack and terrorism involved. but on the other hand, they don't feel like they're being thrown under the bus on the security aspects. the state department officials are taking a lot of responsibility for something that is a state department domain. if you remember, i did an interview with secretary of state hillary clinton a few weeks ago in which she said security is a state department
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function and i take responsibility for that. and subsequently president obama and his debate said he takes responsibility for security. >> what has been the expectation about whether susan rice would be nominated to replace hillary clinton? >> well, everyone here at the state department is playing the kind of parlor game, who is it going to be and certainly susan rice has been a front-runner as has senator john kerry, who made no secret he would be interested in the job. and now that he has said he -- now that it has been out there that possibly he could be secretary of defense, certainly a lot of people think it is going to be her. state department officials know her here at the state department. shes wi was a top official on aa during the clinton administration and i also know that she is a very close adviser to president obama. so the state department could have a lot of weight. but secretary clinton very, very beloved here at the state department, so she'll have her big shoes to fill if it is indeed susan rice.
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>> allyse labott, thanks so much at the state department. ♪
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♪ ♪
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♪ >> reporter: the gospel choir had parishioners on their the parishione parishioners. this is harlem, new york. take a second look at the congregation and you'll see the black church here changing. >> it's very inspiring. i'd definitely come back, yeah, why not? >> there's no pictures, no video. you don't want to interrupt someone's worship. >> reporter: tourists, many european, have been packing the pews of harlem churches in increasing numbers. >> it is to some degree, and i thought of it initially as something bad. but i say i realized it's to be able to know each other better and to learn more about each other. there's nothing -- >> reporter: what's happening in the pews is not just tourism.
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it may be a reflection of something greater. do you see the identity of harlem changing or shifting? >> i think demographically you would have to see that there is a change. the harlem of my youth when i would come to harlem doesn't look the same. >> reporter: statistics show hispanics and whites outpacing the number of blacks moving into harlem. >> you can no longer make the assumption that all persons who are not african-american, who are whites, were tourists. just like anyone else. there were persons who lived in the community, came to the community and wanted to find a place to have a transformative encounter with god. >> reporter: the changing face in harlem still being moved by the age old gospel. jason carroll, cnn, new york. all right. with 32 people dead and more than 400 others sick, lawmakers are demanding answers from the company responsible for the deadly meningitis outbreak. i'll talk with our dr. sanjay gupta next. comes with some risk,velt
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32 people are dead, 438 sick from a deadly meningitis outbreak here in the u.s. and today a demand for answers on capitol hill. the man you see there is the owner of the massachusetts pharmacy suspected of distributing tainted injections that resulted in the outbreak. lawmakers wasted no time in their attempt to get an explanation. listen. >> those who are sick and those who have received injections are waiting to see if they too will get sick. they deserve some answers today. mr. cadden, i ask you to consider -- to reconsider and tell this committee and the people watching this hearing how this tragedy has happened. >> on advice of council, i respectfully decline to answer on the basis of my constitutional rights and privileges including the fifth amendment to the united states constitution. >> all right. dr. sanjay gupta with us now.
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so that last answer kind of supersedes my question, which is did we learn anything? >> well, that was the answer he gave to every single question. there was a lot of people involved with these hearings today including the gentleman there at the head of the necc, but also the fda in terms of what their role was in all of this, what regulations and regulatory oversight should have been there. i'll tell you one thing you may have already known this, the company itself knew about this contamination dating back to january. >> and continued to dispense? >> even while some of these were being dispensed. that's obviously a big concern. and there was a massive contamination that obviously took place there. i visited this particular facility, spent some time outside there. you're looking at images actually from outside the particular -- >> i remember that. it's powerful. >> it's hard to say exactly how this contamination occurred. we heard about air conditioners turned off at night despite needing to keep a constant temperature. water on the ground could have
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been a source for the mold as well. the big question that came out today, fred, i think was who was in charge here? >> uh-huh. >> the fda has had citations for this particular facility dating back to 1999. but it was never shut down. and very sort of minor hand slaps that really took place here. so that's where they're focusing their attention. >> that's part of the big problem, right? the fda doesn't necessarily have to oversee some of these compound pharmacies. in fact, this is what one congressman, congressman murphy had to say, a message for the fda commissioner. >> leadership is easy if you're willing to accept it. and you are not. dr. smith took leadership. she went in and cleaned house and identified problems. what you're telling me is all this smoke and mirrors that you don't have authority. go look in the eyes of the victim and try and comfort them with that. ma'am, that doesn't work. >> is anyone getting any comfort here? >> well, it's hard to hear clearly. and he's sort of really stepped
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on the particular issue which is these families. they wanted somebody to be in charge, some oversight. with these compounding pharmacies, they take existing medications and they change them to some degree. those typically it's what the fda says it's under the jurisdiction of the state. fda steps in when it's actually manufacturing these compounds. what you hear in the questioning is i don't care about that, the fda knew about these problems, they've known about them for over ten years, nothing was done about it. you can say it's the state's responsibility, but in fact somebody should have done something and nothing happened. >> big problems. >> there's also a lot of people who sit on the board of the pharmacy board involved with the companies as a result of those close relationships could that have potentially been a problem as well? >> all right. dr. sanjay gupta, thanks so much. appreciate that. >> you got it. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles
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